House of Representatives Speaker, Martin Romualdez. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA
Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said on Sunday order has been restored in the House of Representatives, and that “moves to destabilize” the chamber had been “nipped in the bud.”
“The House of the People is in order. This same level of order is what allowed us to approve on third and final reading at least 29 of the 42 bills that comprise the legislative agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” Romualdez said in a statement.
Last week, the House elected Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. as senior deputy speaker, replacing Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was relegated to deputy speaker.
The shakeup followed reports that Arroyo was planning to oust Romualdez as speaker, reports that the former president has denied.
Romualdez said “there is still much work to do, so occasional moves to destabilize the House should be nipped in the bud.”
“The House cannot be distracted from finding legislative solutions to issues that affect the lives of ordinary Filipinos. Rather than engaging in politicking, I would rather that we, in the House of Representatives, remain focused on more urgent matters,” he said.
He said the Uniteam, “which the House Leadership has always been a part of, must continue to focus on finding immediate solutions to problems of ordinary Filipinos,” referring to the alliance under which President Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte ran in the 2022 elections.
The House chooses to focus on addressing low power supply, high electricity rates, telco issues and unstable commodity prices, instead of political destabilization,” he added.
The condonation of agrarian reform beneficiaries’ (ARBs) outstanding debts was approved in December 2022, with all 245 lawmakers in attendance voting in favor of House Bill 6336 or the “New Agrarian Emancipation Bill.”
The proposed Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) was also unanimously approved in December, a measure that will grant incentives and benefits that include hazard allowance, transportation allowance, subsistence allowance, one-time retirement cash incentive, health benefits, insurance coverage and benefits, vacation and maternity leaves, and cash gifts.
On May 8, House Bill 7751 or the proposed “Department of Health Specialty Centers Act” authored by Romualdez was passed with the aim to make “specialized health care accessible to our people in the provinces, especially the poor.”
House Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe said Gonzales was named senior deputy speaker “to unburden” Arroyo “of the heavy load required from the position.”
Arroyo said Wednesday reshuffling its officials was the House’s prerogative.
“When I learned that there were reports that I was suspected of plotting a ‘coup’ against Speaker Romualdez, I decided I must speak out to clarify my political position. Indeed, some of my actions may have been misconstrued, such as my recent trip with a delegation of Congressmen to Korea for some official meetings,” she said.
Arroyo — who had said that if Marcos won the presidency, she would vie for the speakership — said “being speaker once more is no longer part of my political objectives.”
WITH THE PHILIPPINE NEWS AGENCY